By FIGHT! contributor Brian J. D’Souza
In any action movie, the audience waits for that uneasy silence before the storm arrives. When Andre “Dida” Amado spars it’s just a matter of time before his hands cause fireworks, taking a toll every time they connect. For sparring partners, the seconds become agonizing minutes—time is relative to the pain being administered—and as the pressure mounts, they wilt, stop punching back and get dropped.
“Dida” comes from Curitaba, Brazil and trained at Chute Boxe, the same place that produced greats like Anderson Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Wanderlei Silva, a place that prepared him for turbulence.
In Curitaba, “Dida” lived in a condominium complex that housed 13,000 people. “I had 40 friends,” he said. “We would run around causing trouble wherever we went. I enjoyed it even though I didn’t have all the things other kids had.” He didn’t have much. “Dida” owned a single pair of Adidas sneakers, and when the “A” and “s” rubbed off, a nickname was born.
The 25-year-old fighter joined Chute Boxe at the age of 13. He paid 50 reais (about $24 USD) a month for three-days a week of training, but when his talent became apparent he was made an instructor and trained for free. The philosophy of the team had a process that weeded out the talkers who lacked heart. “Dida” explains that if new members were quiet, they were brought along with care—but if someone showed up and claimed to know all about fighting, they were kindly asked to partake in a demonstration of skill.
“At Chute Boxe, we would train a lot of security. There was a nightclub in the area, a lot of the bouncers from there would come to Chute Boxe to train. They were big guys—220 to 250 pounds—they would walk in and see me sitting there, I was 16 at the time, the coach would say, ‘You train? Take that guy over there.’ The guy would say, ‘Are you sure? He’s so skinny. I don’t want to hurt him. Am I allowed to hit him?’ And the coach would say, ‘Go ahead, do what you have to do. He can handle it, hit him hard.’”
The muscled tough guys had yet to learn the first tenet of the martial arts: never underestimate your opponent. Escorting inebriated patrons outside with the help of five or six co-workers is different than unarmed combat with a professional. It came as a painful shock that a 140 lb. teenager was tagging them, knocking them down and— eventually— putting their lights out. “[Chute Boxe] lost a lot of regular students,” he said. “Now they can’t do it because it doesn’t work financially.”
As a professional, “Dida”’s striking has served him well, but he has holes in his game that need to be filled. The power in his hands helped him smoke Remigijus Morkevicius in one round in a K-1 rules fight and defeat Caol Uno in a three-round war during the K-1 Heroes tournament. During the next round of the tournament, he buckled Gesias “JZ” Calvancante before being submitted. In the opening round of the DREAM lightweight Grand Prix, he dropped Eddie Alvarez before being stopped on the ground.
“After I saw Wanderlei, I modeled my career after him,” “Dida” said. “I wanted to be like him. Wanderlei was winning all his fights in his style. That’s where I picked everything up, my brother and watching Wanderlei.”
The Japanese love his exciting style, and it’s one he hopes to teach Canadians with the formation of a new fight team at Toronto BJJ called “Evolução Thai”—a new form of muay Thai that is pragmatic for MMA competition.
“Dida” will take on Katsunori Kikuno in a lightweight match at DREAM.10. The card will be broadcast live on HDNet at midnight, July 20 PST and 3 a.m. ET, July 21. The show will be replayed at 10 p.m. ET on Fri., July 24.